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Property lawyer's strife continues

The world of a one-time legal property giant could come crumbling down.

user iconOlivia Collings 24 August 2009 The Bar
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THE world of a one-time legal property giant could come crumbling down.

Bankrupt property lawyer, George Livanes, is facing court on 10 charges of fraud and two charges of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

The charges come after it was discovered Livanes made more than $3 million in false tax deductions for two Balgowlah Heights properties between 1991 and 2002.

‘’The very large majority’’ of claims were in relation to the home where his family lived, Livanes’ bankruptcy trustee, John Melluish of Ferrier Hodgson, said to media.

The New Lawyer spoke to Livanes, who declined to comment.

The 57-year-old lawyer was previously partner at Piper Alderman’s property, infrastructure, environment and development division based in the Sydney and Clayton Utz, Sydney.

‘’Given that he’s a property lawyer it didn’t make sense … but he said he had advice that it was OK,” said Melluish.
Livanes was declared bankrupt in 2006, following a failed attempt to challenge the ATO’s findings into his false tax returns.  

Those proceedings lasted only one day and added to his original debts of $3m. His debt to the Government is now closer to $6m.

Livanes had claimed the property in Balgowlah Heights purchased by him and his wife was intended to be an investment property, but after extensive renovations (costing more than $1m) the couple and their four children proceeded to move into the property and did not rent it out.

In a 2007 family court case, Livanes wife won the right to be exempted from her husband’s debts to the ATO, citing that he had acted recklessly and negligently in filling out his tax returns, and she had no knowledge or involvement in these actions.  

Following his declared bankruptcy Livanes was forced to step down from his role as a partner at Piper Alderman and has since obtain permission from the Law Society of NSW to practice independently.
Prior to his fall from grace, Livanes represented the Bulldogs Rugby League Club and sat on the board of SCECGS Redlands, a Sydney private schools.

He was also described by British publication Who’s Who Legal as being one of two “leading real estate lawyers in the world”, according to senior management at Clayton Utz.












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